Saturday, December 31, 2011

Amazed by the Unremarkable

This is the last entry for 2011.  Another year is done.

I suppose the tendency is to find something profound to say to mark the passing of another year but I really don't have anything much to offer except to share that I'm still constantly amazed by the unremarkable.  I really am.  I'm amazed by lots of things, and at this stage of life that's part of me that I hope never changes and I've made it a life goal to ensure that doesn't change.

This trip is a good example.  I'm in Rochester with my brother and sister and their families.  My flights yesterday went pretty much without incident although a delay in taking off on the first leg made my layover a little more dramatic than I like but it all worked out fine.  When I landed at 11pm it had already been a long day - a day at work, a 200 mile drive to Charlotte to catch my flight, then to Atlanta to catch my flight to Rochester.  And when I finally got to bed at 1:30 I didn't realize how tired I was.  I slept until almost 9 this morning.

My sister and I went out for a bagel run this morning.  A group of us went to see a folk group playing at a local coffee house - one of her friends' husbands plays the harmonica in it.  I took my brother-in-law to the Apple Store to deal with various Apple-related issued they've been having.  We brought pizza home for dinner.  I've been taking special notice of things that are changing around here - after having lived here for 15 years - stores that close or move, restaurants that change names, empty fields that now have something in them - that kind of thing.

But it's casual and comfortable and feels like it has always been like this.  That amazes me, especially given the difficulty it took to get over the hump that prevented me from ever having the chance to realize any of this.  Anyway - Amazement in the Unremarkable is a defining thing in life these days and that's certainly true of this year in particular.

My years tend to be defined by significant events that happen.  In 2010 I learned a lot about how I deal with a deep felt sense of betrayal, and I started wrestling.  In 2009 I was diagnosed with melanoma and I put a number of significant life efforts on hold while I tried to figure out what that meant in my world.  And at this point last year I had changed career directions.  But much of the direction in my life from a year ago has changed significantly.

This year I chose to go to Charleston in hopes that I could get a good enough sense of the area to gauge if I'd want to be (or, could manage to be) there longer.  It was my effort to try to gain a foothold in the thing that was my most significant need: a place that felt like "home" for a reason other than simply working there.

Today I'm still living there and I'm beginning to realize/hope that I'll be there for quite a while.  It feels a little like getting involved in a serious relationship and getting to the point where you dare to hope that you've found "the one".

There are so many other positive things popping right now.  I'm very much enjoying my career again.  I'm athletic and competing again.  I'm getting interested in bike riding, and I've got more life goals than at any time that I can remember.  It's all very exciting.  Most of it fairly unremarkable.  But still - most of it continues to amaze me when I take the time to stop and think about it.

I have also decided that part of the future of this blog will include more sharing of observations on everyday life things. Recently I've done quite a bit of research on a variety of topics.  I did research on various bikes, and whether the extra $$$ spent on a carbon frame was worth the money and, if so, how much.  I did research on various bike components.  I've done research on the question of buying an integrated system like an iMac vs an Apple component system (Mac mini + a monitor).  I've found quite a bit of people have weighed in on those topics in various blogs/forums and have found their explanations invaluable.

An example:

Earlier today I went to the bike store recently to buy some biking shoes to go with my new bike.  The specialist there was very kind and spent quite a bit of time with me to find the exact right pair.  At first she brought me my customary size 43 shoes  in the women's style.  Although the shoes fit ok and looked nice they did have a high arch and they were narrower on the heel and they weren't all that comfortable.

Women's feet are not the same as men's feet. While I was in the store I used my iPhone to do some research.  One website explains some of the significant differences:

"The female foot is not just a scaled down version of the male foot. In general, a women's foot has a higher arch, narrower heel and a shallower first toe. The ball of a women's foot has a smaller circumference than a males. The circumference on the instep of a women's foot is also smaller. Both the ankle length, and the instep length are shorter than their male counterparts."


If I walked barefoot along the beach guess which of those footprints is most like mine. There are some things that don't change throughout this entire process, and feet are one of them.

So, I suggested that she bring me the same size in the men's version of the same shoe to compare.  It wasn't nearly as attractive to look at, but given the anatomical realities of my skeleton the men's shoe fit better and was more comfortable.   I don't think I need to say which one I got....

Similarly...

I've got an iMac that's several years old.  In my world computer's have a useful life of 3 years or maybe a little more given the things I want to use it for, the growth in technology, and the changes in software/tools.  Although I'm not at a point where I'm ready to do anything yet I've started considering what to do next.

I'll stay with Apple.  That's a given.  And I suppose the most obvious and logical choice would be to a more current iMac model.  They've changed quite a bit over the years and are actually pretty impressive and have a good price point given what's included and what I want to use it for.  But I've started wondering about the actual difference between that, and a system built around a Mac mini computer and a good sized monitor.  And whereas I suppose many would consider the integrated nature of an iMac to be a positive thing the fact that it's all built together isn't necessarily always a plus.  So - I'll be putting together some requirements and the research will be on my radar over the coming weeks.

The annual monster that is the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas happens during the second week of January and sometimes involves new announcements so I'm always interested to see what comes out of that.  Rumors of new iPads - what they'll include, when they'll be available, etc. - are already pretty crazed so we'll see how things unfold in general.  If nothing else, I'm an interested observer.

Anyway - it's New Years Eve so I'll head downstairs to relax with my sister and gang.  Our family tradition is to eat ourselves silly while we do a large picture puzzle and I can already here them starting. Tomorrow I'm headed over to watch the Bills game with my brother.  A nasty storm bringing frigid temps, snow, and high winds is being forecast to hit anywhere between tomorrow night and later in the day on Monday.  At this point all I can say is that I'm here and will deal with what happens regardless...

To anyone who reads this - have a Happy and Safe New Year!




Thursday, December 29, 2011

Nuff Said

So, tomorrow at this time I expect to be on a plane heading north.  It seems almost crazy to me to leave a place that's forecasting bright sunshine and highs near or above 70 degrees for a place that's expecting snow and rain and cold but that's what's about to happen.

Weather Forecasts:

                           Rochester                                                              Charleston

I hate to dwell on the weather thing, but the fact that I talk about it as much as I do indicates that it's not a small detail to me.  If my family weren't there I'd avoid anything north of Baltimore until springtime unless there was a very strong compelling reason to do otherwise.

Nuff Said.

I started a list of significant "events" in the trans community in 2011 and I want to continue that:

6.  Updates to the Standards of Care by WPATH
7.  Historic statement of LGBT support as US Foreign Policy in front of the United Nations.
8.  Release of Injustice at Every Turn by NCTE and The Task Force.
9.  The NCAA releases new guidelines titled "NCAA Inclusion of Transgender Student-Athletes"
10. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) produced and released a set of employment guidelines for federal transgender workers (see here).   The federal government is the single largest employer in the country so when it sets the bar it sets significant precendents for others.

By all measures, 2011 was a year of significant progress.

I talked with a reporter yesterday about some of the things I said during the CNN Dialogues event in Atlanta last week.  One of the things he found fascinating were my statements about the fact that the LGBT Community is not necessarily one harmonious community where all are accepted and supported.  I think he'll be writing something about that soon, but we talked for over an hour on a wide range of topics and it was actually very pleasant.

One question he asked that I found fascinating:  He asked how much of my day is spent realizing that I'm a transsexual.  It's hard to explain to people that there was a point when that fact was constantly on my mind - suffocatingly so - and the goal of all of this has been to make that fade.  In my day-to-day world I go to work, I have an active social life, I go the the gym several times a week, I've started training with a local university wrestling team and at a Mixed Martial Arts studio.  I'm truly too busy to think about it much at all.  But that doesn't mean that I've forgotten it, either, and things that remind me of it are more of the things I never imagined I'd be doing than concern or want.  He found that fascinating, too.  Anyway, I hope the article comes out ok.

I've been getting quite a bit of what I consider to be "relationship spam" mail on FB lately.  Some of it is from people who I've friended who send me a one word note:  "Hi", or "Hey" or something similar.  I have no idea what they want as Hi seems to be a salutation more than it is content.  Anyway....

I get email from people who seem to think that FB is a dating site.  Here's one from today:
i seems to be new to this online thing and i love your smiles and profile picture.Wowowow , I'm sorry if my wowow scares u , But i feel like i'm looking at an angel right now which is you hehehehe , Lol . Ok , A question Could this be an Angel? Just a view on ur page i feel cool . some people have nice eyes, some have nice smiles, and some have faces but guess what?.. U have all of them, if angels were to be taxed , i would be the highest taxpayer just for u , Oh my Goodness i still can't take off my eyes from ur picture 
Are you kidding me?  Every once in a while someone will send me something that intrigues me but this kind of thing makes me laugh more than anything.  I'm sure these things go out to lots of people and all I can do is hope that nobody takes it too seriously.  Anyway.....Delete.

The most interesting thing in today's T-news is a story about acceptance in athletics that I very much feel. Read it here.  Nuff Said.

I bought a new purse yesterday.  I remember writing a similar entry last year about the personal nature of picking out a purse - it needs to "fit".  My purse and I are getting used to each other now and I'm thinking we'll be together for a while.  We'll see.  :)

I don't think that my view on relationships hasn't changed much in recent years.  Although I like to think of myself as a romantic at heart I don't believe that love can overcome anything, or love lasts forever, or even that there's any such thing as unconditional love.  I far more believe that people need to enjoy it while it lasts as it's far more likely to be a passing reality than a lifelong connection.  That's how I perceive most relationships in life so I guess "love" relationships are no different.

My main "love" song in this regard hasn't changed over the last few years and is probably a glimpse of my darker side (I do have one), but that doesn't mean it's not true:




I love this song.  I listen to it while I'm biking, or at the gym, or wherever and it just rocks me.

Nuff Said.....


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Window on the World

A few weeks ago I shared a photo of sunrise through the big window in my office.  I'm on the 5th floor of a building that overlooks a number of things so it's almost having a private little window on the world.  When the weather gets nasty the window gets pelted by rain and/or wind, and we can see the clouds that sometimes stay offshore but never make it to land.

Yesterday was a fascinating day.  A fast moving system brought rain, high winds (it blew a Best Buy sign right off the store nearby), clouds racing across the sky, and ultimately sun.  Watching it all change like that was like watching several days in one.

We're also near the airport.  This airport is unique in that it's pretty small - at least by my standards - but it's also got the added "diversity" of being a Boeing production center, an Armed Services airpirt, and it's day job handling passenger service in and out of Charleston.

When you're near the airport you can see pretty much anything land, from F-16 fighters (usually in pairs) to huge, lumbering C-17 or C130 transport planes to a huge, swollen plane that Boeing uses to transport constructed fuselage parts across country.

Transport plane landing at CHS today....
A couple of days ago we saw a plane none of us could initially recognize take off and ascend into the sky.  It was a huge plane with what seemed like an unusually large wingspan.  It wasn't long before we concluded that it was one of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliners.  They built an entire massive factory here to build the planes and there's usually quite a bit of hoopla when one comes or goes.

Anyway, apparently it's becoming commonplace here already.... But it still looked pretty cool.

I'm scheduled to go to Rochester this weekend.  Since I figure nobody in my family is reading this I'll admit that I'm having second thoughts.  It's a huge hassle logistics-wise, and the weather forecast isn't helping - especially Monday when I'm supposed to fly home.



Anyway - I'd have to say at this point I'm 50-50 on whether to go or delay it until my birthday in February.  We'll see....

Today is the anniversary of my dad's passing.  He died sometime during the night between Dec. 28-29 (although the "official" date is 12/28).  My dad had quite the life, and when he died I don't think any of us really expected it.  I was already spleeping in the spare bedroom at home (I'd been on hormones for well over a year at that point) and didn't find out until I got to work the next morning.  My mom left me a message telling me he had passed away.

We were living in Scottsdale at the time and my wife decided that it would be better if I went to handle all the "stuff" by myself.  She couldn't bring herself to pretend that we were close anymore knowing what she knew about what was happening in my life.  So I flew to Rochester on Jan. 2, alone, for some of the last ritualistic events of David's life.  My dad's memorial service was the last time I wore a suit and tie.  It was the last time my family would see me before they, too, learned about what was happening.  And, in a very real sense, the person who left after just a few chilly days in Rochester was significantly different than the person who arrived.

I could go into all kinds of details, but suffice it to say that considering his passing and reflecting on the meaning of Life provided renewed impetus to "be" at a time when it was much needed. 

My dad wrote a book titled Life Itself.  A paragraph from one of the reviews on Amazon:

Robert Rosen asks the question: what is life?, and answers the question precisely after 10 chapters. His method of answering the question is ground breaking. In trying to answer the question of, What is Life? he first must explore what life is not. In that process of trying to answer the question about life, he had discovered something *very* important about science and mathematics: there are some unnecessary limitations placed them, currently.

I never gave my dad's work much thought, and it was only after his death that I came to recognize the connection to much of what he studied and wrote about and its implications in my own day-to-day existence.  It took me that long to realize that the limitations he was exploring with regards to the relationship between science/match and Life are matched or exceeded by limitations that each of us place on life itself by not living it, or not realizing that we can, or by allowing ourselves to become trapped by fear, or circumstance.

Eventually we all run out of tomorrows.  My dad lived his last tomorrow 12 years ago today and eventually I will reach that same point in my own life.  There is no denying that.  All I can do is to make the most of the ever-shortening time between now and then.  And that's what I'm doing.

Back to the window in my 5th floor office.  It's a little windown on the world, a little vantage point up above.  And so, too, is what today represents to me.  It provides an opportunity to gain a new perspective, or at least reminds me of things I generally know but sometimes forget. 

I am going to train with a local Mixed Martial Arts (Krav Maga) instructor after work today.  Then - I'll go out for a nice dinner that will involve a glass of good Scotch.  That's what my dad would have done.  And I'm only too happy to follow suit.  :)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Some Semblance (or not)

This is the "odd" week between Christmas and New Year's. I'll be at work but most of the people I need to interract with won't. After being off yesterday it's a short week, too, so it just "feels" funny. And, I'll be leaving on Friday to spend a few days in the great white North with family. All things considered - there's really no groove to get into until all this insanity is passed and things get back to some semblance of "normal".

Last year I spend most of Christmas day in the Dallas airport trying to get from there to Charleston in advance of a major snowstorm bearing down on Atlanta.  After a day of trying to make ends meet I finally landed here near 1am on a cold, raw, rainy night.

The year before that I flew into Dallas on Christmas eve and it was snowing like nobody's business.  We got at least a couple of inches that stayed around for a couple of days, and I had an enjoyable week visiting with mom.

The year before that - well, I start to get a little fuzzy....  I can half-remember a few Christmases where I was recovering from this or that so memory of specifics is dimmed by a Percocet haze.  I spent a couple of Christmases over the last 10 years with Elizabeth and her family.  But all things considered, it's not really that big a deal for me.

One thing I'm not fuzzy about yet is what I did this year.  This year's Christmas will be memorable for it's relaxed, chill, unremarkable-ness.  I did a 45-mile bike ride along the coast.  I made a couple of medicinal doses of Gingerbread Martini to help recuperate.  I talked with friends and family, and had a very pleasant long chat with my ex-.  And I had dinner with local friends who have welcomed me into their own family.  All things considered - it was simple and it was wonderful.  And, in restospect now that I've explained all that - I suppose it was remarkable.

The center piece to the day was the bike ride.  I had been hoping to finish my entire loop before the rain started and I made it with ten minutes to spare.  It's the longer version of a loop I haven't done since summer, and I feel no shame in sharing that my legs were not at all happy with me afterwards.  I did stop a couple of times, though, to enjoy the day.  I sometimes need to remind myself that a key element of those kinds of days is the journey and not simply getting from "here" to "there".  I took a nice stroll along the beach (tide was out but coming in).  I spent a little time at a quaint little pier where shrimp boats dock and unload.  I stopped at the marina.  But perhaps the best part is that I had it all to myself.  Nobody was on the roads.  The beach was nearly deserted.  The dock was empty except for one of the shrimpers trying to fix up an old bike someone had given him.  It was great.

I took some photos and will find a way to put them into a little album that I can share.  Stay tuned on that....

Afterwards my collective body parts helped my head me to decide that I'm going to get a second bike.  The one I have is good for general purpose riding, especially down on the beach (it's a hybrid).  But now I've got the bug for a half-decent road bike for some of these 50-milers so after significant research, testing, input from friends I made my decision on which one and it's on order.  Merry Christmas to me.

Funny thing - I really don't know that many people here in Charleston but on Monday I was at both Best Buy and at the gym and people I've met here came up to me and said 'hi'.  I didn't recognize either of them - one was a waiter at my usual Tuesday night dinner hangout - but both took the time to come over to chat.  Both were very pleasant and I'm glad they did.

The weather here has been very pleasant lately except for perhaps the afternoon rain on Christmas Day that I mentioned.  Today we've got a "front" coming thru and although it's still warm (it was 55 degrees when I left the house this morning at 6:30) the rain started an hour ago and is supposed to be happening all day long.  We need it, I suppose, and honestly I think I can count the number of rainy days like this that I can remember since spring on one hand. 

Every year as Dec. 31 there's a tendency to put together Best and Worst lists as part of the Year in Review.  Without giving it too much deep thought, here is my list of the top Trans stories/events of 2011:

1) Chaz Bono on Dancing with the Stars
2) Video of brutal assault on MD transwoman in a Baltimore McDonalds goes viral
3) Requirement for removal of trans benefits exclusions as part of the CEI
4) In Georgia, 11th Circuit Rules for Transgender Employee in Sex Discrimination Case
5) The continuing trend of passing local and regional trans-inclusive non-descrimination ordinances

Some broader LGBT things are conspicuously missing from my list.  For example, the repeal of DADT didn't make my list because it really had very little impact with regards to trans people. Marriage in NY didn't make it, either.  I think the take away is that progress in the T isn't necessarily the same path as progress in the LG or B. 

Anyways - time to go to the gym.  Some things never end.  :)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Just Another Friday

So.  It's Friday.  It's the day after the winter Solstice.  It's the second last Friday of 2011.  It's Christmas Eve Eve.  That seems like a lot of "stuff" for one day to bear.  For me, it's just another day.

I don't say that in any kind of morose or sad way.  I suppose it'd be easy to read that into it although it's certainly not meant that way.  What I mean is that I went to work today, I went to the gym and did a good 5 mile run in 46 minutes 37 seconds.  I went to Costco and even stopped at Best Buy this evening and neither seemed overly busy to me. And other than lighter traffic on the roads but craziness at the malls I really don't see much of a difference from other Fridays.  Like I said - just another day....

When I left the house this morning it was 67 balmy degrees and it was in the mid 70's by lunchtime.  I take no shame in admitting that I'm loving that.  The weather forecast has changed so that rain this weekend is far less likely than had been predicted earlier in the week.  Right on.

I've decided to stay at home over this weekend which I'm actually looking forward to.  I haven't had a relaxing weekend in a while and hope to do a nice, long bike ride on Sunday if the weather cooperates.  Speaking of biking - I made the mistake of "trying on" some newer road bikes this week.  The bike I've got is a hybrid bike good for a number of things but I really don't think it's meant for 50-mile road trips.  Road bikes have come a long way and I tried one of the newer silky smooth road bikes.  What a difference!  I've narrowed it down to a couple of them.  The 2011 models are being sold for 20% off   Although I can find several reasons to try to back away from it I can see that a bike might be my Christmas gift to myself.  So, I've been doing some research.

What else am I putting under my tree?  A pair of new wrestling shoes, a new heart rate monitor, and some new clothes.  And a backpack.  REI has a sale going on saving 30% on REI gear.  I got a backpack that originally had almost 40% off, so adding another 30% made it a crazy good deal.  Now I just need to find an opportunity to use it.

I do want to say how much I'm enjoying my new work.  I suppose I've been pretty vague on a number of things lately but one thing I'll share is that my job is in Charleston and I can honestly see it keeping me here for a long time (as in, 3 years or more).  I'm at the point of beginning to consider what it would take to bring all of my "stuff" here from Phoenix which is a fairly big deal. 

I look forward to getting to work in the morning, and days just fly by.  I haven't felt that way about a job in a long time.   Although I don't want to get into too many specifics about what I'm doing (for various reasons) I'll share that I'm managing a very large multi-year IT project and am part of a pretty cool team.  We bond over food, and yesterday's adventure was to head out to lunch at a local burger/brewery place.  My team is a mix of civilian workers, military folk, consultants, and others which provides a unique kind of environment.  Anyway - I've been there a month and am still enjoying it.

I recently signed up for benefits and for the first time in my life I accepted the Vision insurance coverage.  My eyesight is actually pretty good, but I can tell that things are a-changing.  I can't read a thing without my reading glasses but I can sense that other "stuff" is going to need checking too so it's probably wise to recognize that....

There was an article in Huffington Post today that I found interesting.  It was by Lance Bass titled Why We Shouldn't Use the word 'Tranny'.  I agreed with most everything he said including the part about the gay media sensationalizing things.

I'm hoping tomorrow turns out to be just another Saturday, and that Sunday follows suit.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Feeding Frenzy

I feel like I've been in a food orgy since weigh-in on Friday.  It seems like I've been doing non-stop eating, only briefly interrupted by the wrestling tournament on Saturday.  It's odd to realize that on Friday afternoon I was perhaps the lightest I've been in my adult life (~156 lbs) and now I'm feeling like a blob.  But between re-plenishing my energy, treating myself to things I've denied for a while, and general Holiday "treats" I'm feeling constantly full.  I need to stop...

This is only a brief vacation from training.  The next Olympic qualifier tournament is in early February at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado.  There are 2 events in March as well.

I'm really not planning on doing anything for Christmas.  I briefly considered going up to Rochester to see my sister and brother but upon further review, I just need some down time.  I may head up there over New Year but will make that decision over the next few days.  Instead, I'll relax here, I've been invited to a friend's for dinner, and I'll just make it a low-key weekend.  I need more of those.

The weather here lately has been fine.  Highs this week so far have been in the mid-70's, but change is expected overnight and it looks like rain into the weekend.  Not for nothing, but I'd rather have a "wet" Christmas than a "white" one.  Romantic notions of cold and snow over the Holidays ended for me a long time ago.  Still, with all this nice weather it just doesn't "feel" like the Holidays.

I had to have my cute little nose ornament removed at the piercing studio tonight.  Something in the process of taking it out at the wrestling tournament and getting it back in again caused some complications and taking it out was the most reasonable option.  Anyway - if I want to go thru it all again I can wait for 4 weeks until it heals up and then re-pierce.  At this point, I'm thinking not but we'll see.  All that's left is a little hole, and a little blood.  I did like it, though.  :-\

Dr. O has his "official" website online.  Finally (see it here).  I' remember all those years ago when I stumbled upon Andrea James' website and she featured detailed photos (long since gone) documenting her amazing Dr. O experience.  It provided one of those "Holy Sh*t" moments that helped change the balance from convincing myself I could never transition to realizing that I could.  Anyway - if I have one more procedure left in me - he's the man I'll want to do it.  But, it'll have to wait until wrestling is over.

The fall-out from the situation in Colorado from a few weeks ago where the Girl Scouts there were flip-flopping on whether or not to admit a young trans child is still settling, as expected.  A recent article says that some scout leaders - in a whole other state, mind you - have resigned, and have dissolved their troops (details here).
Jeff Johnston, a social issues analyst specializing in homosexuality and sexuality at Focus on the Family, told Baptist Press that the Girl Scouts' practice of admitting transgendered children has implications for other girls in the troop. It can lead to gender confusion, and already some parents have contacted Focus with concerns over Girl Scout camping trips with boys pretending to be girls.
It still amazes me that people can honestly believe that seeing a trans child can somehow cause another child to get "confused".  It's indicative of just how fragile some people are about this - that to even recognize that it exists is going to somehow lure some young, impressionable mind over to the dark side.  Yeesh.  Anyway, it seems to me that if these parents are resigning they're probably not the right people to be leading in the organization anyways.  Bye bye.

As for me - I'm just working (and loving what I'm doing).  I need to get back to the gym.  I'm enjoying a little down time.  And all things considered - balance is good.

I think I'll go to the movies over the next few days.  The new MI movie looks good.  I might go see "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo", also, but that's certainly not holiday "feel good" material.  More in the "feel good" vein is Matt Damon in "We Bought a Zoo".

Anyway - onwards.  Thursday awaits.  And I'm ready for bed....


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Done but not Over

The temporary insanity that has been my life lately has passed.  I'm going home, and very much looking to recovering although it'll take me some time to re-adjust.

This entire past week seems fairly-tale like.  The midnight flight from Phoenix on Monday, the trip to Atlanta and the CNN Dialogues event on Wednesday.  And then the trip to Dallas to compete at the US National Wrestling Championships in hopes of earning a spot to the Olympic Team Trials in April.

The 3 days in Dallas were comprised of three distinct parts.  The first was the arduous effort to make weight.  I ended up in my plastic suit both Thursday and Friday and ultimately ended up doing what needed to be done.  But it wasn't fun.  Those things sap energy like nobody's business so by the time it's all done getting energy back is key.

Immediately after weigh-in it was time to re-energize, re-hydrate, and re-focus.  Jamy and I had Italian food and I was drinking whatever liquid I could get.  By the time I faded to sleep on my mom's fold out couch I was exhausted.

And then yesterday was the reason that it all happened - the competition itself.  There were 20 competitors in my weight class and it was stacked with elite talent.  There were several national champions, past world champions, world medalists, University all-Americans, Olympic Training Center athletes, and others of renown.  And me.

At the US Sr. National Wrestling Championships

It was a double elimination tournament.  That is - lose twice and you're done.

When they posted the pairings I noticed that my first match was against perhaps the most accomplished name in women's wrestling, Kristie Davis.  Kristie has won 9 medals at the World Championships - two of them gold - and her list of accomplishments is longer than my arm (some details here).  She won a gold medal in the Pan Am Games earlier this year, pinning her first 3 opponents on the way to the finals.  Competing against her was truly an honor, and although I did my best she used my own "best" move on me and that was that.  The match was over shortly before the end of the first period.

Match #1:  Opponent is Kristie Davis.

I got a "bye" in the next round.

And, in the third round I faced an opponent from the USOEC (US Olympic Education Center).  I lost on points.

Match #2: I lost on points

So - that was that.  I was done.

When the adrenaline is pumping you don't realize how things hurt.  But by the end of the day the various cuts on my face and bruises on my arms that I had collected were getting sore.  My muscles reminded me that regardless of how much strength training you do there's nothing quite like exerting in a match.  And, the reality that all these months of preparing and training were now over started to sink in.

In all honesty - I am at peace with how things unfolded.  The competitors were wonderful.  The people at USA Wrestling were tremendously accommodating.  My training paid off in that I didn't run out of gas in the middle of a match.  And, getting to a position of competing at that level is something I never imagined regardless of the outcomes.  The fact of the matter is that the sport has some amazing athletes and I enjoyed competing against some of them, and learning.

Life is very much about growth for me.  It is about overcoming fears and "doing".  Over the past few years I've done both with regards to my wrestling.

Some specific people significantly added to my weekend.  One was my friend Jamy from Dallas who provided friendship, encouragement, and support just as she always does.  Jamy rocks.  Others were Courtney and Mark, the producer and cameraman from CNN, who came to Dallas to follow my efforts.  By the time we shared a shot late yesterday afternoon (Mark ordered us a "Buttery Nipple") we had bonded over the last few days and although they were simply observers they were fun and funny at a time when both were much needed.  Thanks to all, I didn't feel so alone.

The crew from CNN at the Nationals
I flew home this morning, and it's the first time in a long time that I haven't had to think about training, or what I eat, or going to a gym.  I'm going to enjoy some down town now as we cruise toward the end of the year.

The next (and last) change to make the Olympic Trials happen at the end of March.  I'm not even sure what I'll be doing for Christmas yet so I'm certainly in no place to guess what I'll do about that.  But I haven't ruled anything out....

I'm done for now.  But, it's not over.

iPhone Update:  A week ago today my iPhone was stolen in Phoenix.  The police tracked it to a particular apartment and were planning to watch video from the convenience store on Monday.  Some have written requesting an update.  So here it is.  News since then: Nada.  Nothing.  Zilch.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Whirlwind Week continues

This is a whirlwind week, even by my standards.  Different part of the week are focused on specific significant elements of my world - my "home" life, advocacy, and athletics.  As I type this the spotlight has passed from one to the other, and is now firmly on the latter.

I noted in my most recent FB update that time is blurring.  It is.  Some combination of all my comings and going, the pressure to get down to my weight class limit by 5pm today, the CNN event in Atlanta, and finally the upcoming US Nationals competition all seem to have me living in a bit of a twilight world.

First, a bit about the last couple of days.

I flew from Charleston to Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon.  CNN had a car waiting for me that took me to the Four Seasons downtown.  I had an hour to either relax, or to go to the fitness center and sweat a bit.  I chose the latter.

The CNN event was a lot of fun.  Thanks and kudos to everyone who took part in planning and making it happen behind the scenes.  We've been talking about it for 6 months or more now so to finally see it happen was wonderful.

I also applaud the producers for selecting such a diverse group of panelists.  Each of us brought a unique, different, relevant perspective to the various topics we covered during the evening and I think the moderator kept things moving and focused throughout the night.  I could spend a couple of paragraphs on each of the panelists but for the sake of brevity I'll simply say that (a) it was truly an honor to be part of that group and (b) I hope we have more opportunities for similar discourse in the future.

Two big, black Esplanade vans pulled up to the front of the hotel to collect us at 5 and within an hour we were getting make-up done, getting to know one another, doing the obligatory photo op, getting mic'd, and generally chilling.  It was a very relaxed atmosphere which is probably a result of the people involved.  We were all pretty chill.


I'm sharing this photo via a blog dedicated to Johnny Weir.  They ran a long story on the event and have several pics (see it here).  The GA Voice did a good story on it, as well (see it here).  I'm told that CNN will be making it available on iTunesU shortly, and that segments may be featured on CNN.com.

I had a small dinner (and a drink) with a friend in the area afterwards and got to bed by midnight.

My 18-hours in Atlanta ended when a car met me in the lobby of the hotel at 6:30, took me to the hotel, and got me to the airport to catch my 8:30 flight to Dallas.

Now it's time to get serious.  I mean, really serious.  Because what comes next can be dangerous and needs total focus.

The lobby of the Main Hotel for the US Nationals
The focus of the Wrestling World in the US turns to Arlington TX this weekend for the US Nationals.  This is the main Olympic Trial qualifying event, and the top place finishers in each weight class will earn an invitation to compete in that elite event in April.  That's the goal.

I'm as prepared right now as I can be, and the final (and critical) component of all this is to actually make weight by 4pm today.  Within an hour of arriving yesterday I was in a plastic suit on an elyptical trainer sweating off water and by late afternoon I was 2 1/2 pounds over my limit.  That means I've got a bit more work to do today.  Believe me - this is no fun.

The venue here is the Arlington Convention Center which is located right next to Texas Ranger stadium and the new Dallas Cowboy Stadium.

The US Nationals - before competition begins...
Weigh in's are today and I've got some work to do before then.  Immediately afterwards???  Margarita.  And dinner.  Then off to bed early.  Competition happens tomorrow starting at 10am and will happen quickly.

There will be video streaming of the event as it unfolds (see links).  The way it works is that each wrestler will have several matches - and the finals will be held in the evening.  It's not like you're done the first time you lose.  It goes on.  All the elite competitors in the country in these divisions are here...past Olympians, World Champions, World medalists, current and past US champions, University All-Americans, elite athletes from the Army, Navy, and Marines, athletes currently training at the US Olympic Training Center....all are here for this.  And, one insane competitor who is twice as old as everyone else, who has a unique history, and who for some reason still loves this sport.  Anyway....as a spectator who enjoys this sport I'd love to watch.  As a competitor....well, it's just amazing.

There's more going on with this, but I'll keep it at that for now.  I'm very hopeful that things stay focused on the competition and don't get too "complicated".  But I've also learned to stay focused on the things that I can control (or at least, that I think I can) so I'm doing that.  First hurdle was to get here.  Second comes at 4 today to make weight.  Third comes tomorrow with the competition.  Then?  I guess time will tell....




Tuesday, December 13, 2011

In the Arena

I'll start by saying that there are no updates on the stolen iPhone saga.  I didn't hear from the police yesterday so I'll just hold tight for the moment....To Be Continued.

On the personal front I'm in the middle of a crazy week that is about to get crazier.  I leave tomorrow mid-day for Atlanta and the CNN Dialogues event.  I'm looking forward to it.  Wouldn't you know I've got, like, an infected eyelash so one of my eyelids is looking kind of angry right now but such is life.  I just hope it doesn't get swollen closed overnight

After that's done I go to Texas to wrestle.  I had a wonderful 6-mile run yesterday after work and weighed myself this morning to see how far I've still got to go.  I was less than 5 lbs from target, which is actually pretty remarkable given all the Holiday "temptations" everywhere.  I'll be glad when weigh-in is done on Friday so I can start eating again.

My son called to say that he had been in a car accident.  He's fine, but it was a pretty significant collision.  Now he begins the beaurocracy of "insurance".  That's something.

In the "activism" world I wanted to highlight a story that appeared on the Time website yesterday.  It's titled "Transgender People: The next frontier in civil rights" (read it here).  One particularly powerful snippet:
Transgender people have long been on the margins of society. That has even been true in the LGBT — or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender — community, where debates have raged over how hard and how fast to push for transgender rights, which remain controversial. But that is true of any group that is still in the early stages of its civil rights struggle. If two of the nation’s most powerful institutions, federal courts and major corporations, are increasingly lining up behind transgender people, then change is undoubtedly on the way.
Yes. We have come a long, long way. And yes - we are still in the early stages of our struggle.  But change doesn't happen by itself.  It takes time.  It takes persistence.  It involves risk.  It takes dedication. It takes people willing to stand up at some point and say that things long accepted or long tolerated are now unacceptable or no longer tolerated.  It takes building relationships and having friends/allies willing to stand with you. 

I didn't transition to change the world.  I transitioned to change MY world.  But the fact that simply making it through the day in an intolerant world can be a nightmare no matter what you do is something I've had to confront in my own life.  And, in the process, I've come to recognize that in order for things to truly get better things need to change. 

You don't always get to choose what happens to you, or your circumstance.  But I'm comfortable with the fact that you can choose how to deal with it.  Either accept things as they are, or don't.  And, I don't.  The choice I made years ago was to dedicate myself to being part of that change in hopes that the world I leave will be a better one than the world I inherited.  That dedication has not wavered, and it continues today.  I really don't care whether others like it or not, agree with it or not, or even whether they can understand it or not.  None of that is important. 

The fact of the matter is that our world IS changing and many, many, many collective efforts are making that happen.  And I'll play my own little part in the ongoing struggle of marginalized communities to overcome barriers of intolerange, ignorance, and inequality. By going to Atlanta to be involved in worthwhile broader discussions like CNN Dialogues.  By participating in national sporting events.  And by embracing and living my own version of MY life.

As I head off to the challenges/opportunities that await later this week and beyond, I'll share that I am continually empowered by a Theodore Roosevelt quote:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Amen.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Interesting Day

It's a little after 1am East Coast time.  I'm sitting in the airport in Phoenix waiting for my friggin' 12:30am flight to board.  The  key for these red-eyes is to dress comfortably for sleeping.  And, I am.

It has been an "interesting" day for several reasons.  Perhaps the single-most interesting thing that happened began first thing this morning...

So, I decided I wanted to go for a hike before the day got too far along so I left the house and stopped at a nearby convenience store for a coffee.  Shortly after leaving I noticed that my phone was missing.  That's when things got going.

I knew I had the phone when I left the house, so it seemed like a pretty simple thing that I must have put it down on a counter or something while I was doctoring the coffee and forgotten it.  I've done that before.  But I want back to the store and looked in all the areas that I had been and there was no sign of it.  I asked the people who worked there - nobody had turned anything in.

So - back to the house I go (3 or 4 miles away) to use the Locate-My-Phone feature from my laptop.  And - sure enough, the laptop showed that the phone was in the store.  So - back I went.  I looked everywhere in the area that the locator seemed to say it was but didn't see it.  Hmmm....

Another feature on the Locator is that you can make it make a sound for two minutes, and show some text on the screen.  Since there was no internet service in the store I told the guy who was working that I would go to the McDonald's a couple of miles away (they have free internet), send a signal to the phone, and come right back for it.  That's what happened.

But when I got back he said he hadn't heard anything and there was still no sign of it.  So, I decided to try it one more time.  That's when things got more interesting...

I went back to the McDonald's to send it another signal, and lo-and-behold it's moving.  It's on a nearby street, heading north.  I sent a signal to the phone saying that I was tracking it and to please leave it, but the signal kept on moving.  I followed it for 20 minutes until it pulled into an apartment complex.  I could locate it right down to the specific parking spot.

I called AT&T to tell them about it and ended up "wiping" the phone.  Once that happens you can't track it any more.  I hustled down to the Apple store and got a replacement - I can't afford to leave here without a phone.  Especially this week.

I called a friend about it who asked if I had called the police.  I expressed my doubts that they'd do anything because even though I knew where it was I couldn't prove anything.  But this friend said they'd be able to look at video footage from in the store to see who took it, and perhaps they could get a tag number on the car.  So I called the police.

They met met at the store an hour later and I explained all this to them.  I showed them the messages I had sent the phone, and I told them exactly what parking space in this apartment complex they pulled in to.  The manager of the store had gone home for the day and would be back in tomorrow so we'd have to wait on the video.  But the two officers said they'd go to the address and look around.

They found out what apartment coincided with the parking spot and knocked on the door.  The person there acknowledged that they had been at the convenience store but denied taking the phone.  But now that the police officer knows what they look like, he'll be able to match them up when he watches the video in the morning.

So, back to now.  I'm at the airport with a replacement phone.  I'm told there's a good change that the people who took the phone will discard it now that the cops have visited so I probably won't see that again.  But we're pressing forward to see what actually happened, and we should have that in the morning.  They won't need the phone as evidence if the video shows what happened.

I've got to say how pleasantly surprised I am about the response of the police.  These two officers who responded were very nice, very thorough, and they followed through on everything.  The called me a couple of times to give me updates.  All in all - kudos to these two officers.  They rock.


A good one

It's a bit after 6am and I'll admit I wish I were getting a little more sleep at the moment, but I think that 5 or so hours I got last night are all I'll see for a while.  I'm out of town at the moment and have a busy day ahead of me, and I catch my return flight at 12:40am tonight (or, tomorrow morning depending on how you look at it).  I'll be flying all night and have a busy day back home tomorrow.  Ugh.

The potentially good news is that I'm near the top of the upgrade list and as of this morning there are seats available in First Class.  It'd be nice to have a little extra room to catch some zzzzzz's.  My fingers are crossed....

I typically sleep pretty well but that hasn't been the case lately.  I think it's some combination of losing weight for the event next weekend, the fact that I'm typically going to the fitness center after dinner rather than in the middle of the day (gets my system wound up), and general life change stuff.  Whatever it is I'd like to get back to the days of not all that long ago where 6 or 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep were the norm, not the exception.

I visited all my worldly "stuff" yesterday.  It lives in a storage unit and has been there for a year now.  All the dust storms in the Phoenix area over the summer somehow pushed dust under the closed door so everything at the top of this huge pile has a layer of dry desert dust on it.  Yuck.  My goal for 2012 will be to be reunited with my "stuff".  If things work out as I hope they do with my new work project I'll have the stability I've needed to move it all and put it into a place where I expect to be living for some period of time that's measured in more than months.  Anyway, visiting it all was bittersweet.

I also had a long conversation with my ex- yesterday.  We haven't spoken in months for a number of reasons and yesterday's chat was a very pleasant one.  It was nice to see that the element of our relationship where we could talk about anything and everything for hours is still there.  Now, of course, there are a couple of topics that we need to steer clear of because it inevitably causes an unnecessary clash but that's not difficult.  I'm glad we talked and had the opportunity to catch up a bit in each others' lives.

And lastly, I had dinner with a small group of friends.  That was very pleasant as well...

All in all, a busy day.  But...a good one.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Change in the Weather

When I drove to work yesterday morning a bit before 7 it was 69 balmy, relatively humid, degrees out.  It had been like that for several days.  A cold front that had been slowly making its way across the country made a windy, wet arrival last night and this morning it was 38 chilly (but sunny!) degrees.  What a difference a day makes.

Things change over time.  I've posted a number of things lately that are the results on long, ongoing efforts.  Another is the release today of the HRC Corporate Equality Index.  The key new statistic is the number of companies that cover trans-related procedures and expenses, including SRS (see details).

This achievement has not come easily.  At the beginning (in 2004) when Jamison and I were on the HRC Business Council and were approached about adding new criteria to trans-related policy adding a section on wellness benefits was a no-brainer.  But actually putting it into practice involved a tremendous amount of education and change as neither corporate America, the insurance industry, nor the medical "industry" for that matter was aligned to enact what needed to happen.

Over these last several years key players in finally getting to this point have been Andre Wilson and Jamison Green, corporate leaders who have pushed these benefits internally at their own companies, and so many others who have set the stage for where things are now.

I looked back in my old blogs and found an entry from August 2006:

August 4, 2006

I got an email from my friends at Eastman Kodak today. It reads as follows:

In a July 2006 update to the health care benefits Kodak offers its employees, Kodak will now cover sex transformation procedures, services and supplies provided on or after July 1, 2006, including therapy, sex hormones and transsexual surgery. In Kodak's view, this is a medical condition that the company believes warrants coverage under its medical plans.

Wow. To me, these two sentences say it all. Bravo Kodak! I couldn't be happier or prouder of the wonderful people there who helped to make this happen. It's not like they're trying to hide it, either. This kind of statement puts it out there for everyone to see. They absolutely rock.

I published a list of companies who said they cover SRS several weeks ago, and I expect that list to grow in leaps and bounds over the coming months. There are a couple of reasons: first, the HRC Corporate Equality Index is coming out next month and that always motivates companies to enact new GLBT policy to get a better score. This year, for the first time ever, we've included transgender wellness criteria that companies MUST have in order to achieve a perfect rating. I think it's going to make a huge difference and I doubt we'll know the true impact for years to come. When companies begin to cover these procedures they're doing more than just helping to defray the costs - they're helping to legitimize it as more than simple elective cosmetic surgery. The fact that companies have done the due diligence to understand the issues, to quantify the costs, to make the internal changes necessary to make this happen - it all adds up to one thing. Dignity.

I never imagined that I'd see these things happening in my lifetime. I suppose I've always taken it for granted that the medical costs of these procedures put it out of reach of all but the most fortunate. That is changing, and it's changing fast. What's even more amazing to me is to be part of this effort. I have no idea how ordinary people like me find themselves in the middle of things so huge as this. I like to call it "Life Tides". Mine have carried me to some pretty incredible places.

***

Knowing how world-changing these discussions were at the beginning, and now seeing them actually happening, continues to amaze me. 

I think it's also important to highlight quiet leadership.  A couple of weeks ago there was an article about Google setting the "Gold Standard" in trans related healthcare benefits (see it here).  While it's nice that a company gets that kind of visibility and is that public about it, others have been doing these things for a while, when they didn't have to.  IBM, American Express, Kodak...I can think of others who first set the standard and who proved that it was OK to do these things.  In fact, experience from those companies laid the groundwork for what is happening now.  Anyway....I don't want to minimize the value of any of these things, but it's all part of a bigger picture.

I also think it's important to recognize that most trans-people will never get these benefits.  The single-most pressing issue we face as a community is chronic unemployment and under-employment that then has a number of other significant practical implications.  We're fighting this cultural war on a number of fronts, and I don't think any of us is naive enough to think that positive news on one front somehow means "Victory".  There's still a long way to go....
In other news, last night was our company has its Holiday Party.  The company President is visiting from our main office so we finally had a chance to meet earlier in the week.  I miss things like Christmas Parties where everyone in a small company got together to relax and socialize.  I'm glad it's part of the culture of this small consulting company - it's actually one of the things that attracted me to it given that I've consulted for companies where we've never actually met in person.  Anyway, we had dinner and drinks at a nice local restaurant and although I didn't over-indulge too badly I'm actually still kinda full this morning....
I don't like being this light.  It's nice to be thin, but I don't like losing weight in my butt or in my face.  Butt gets small, face gets gaunt-ish.  At least I think they do.  But I'm within comfortable striking distance of where I need to be by next Friday at 5pm so I suppose I shouldn't complain.

While I'm on a roll with some of the news I've been sharing lately I'll post another.  It's a story about a Sales Associate at Macy's who was recently fired for refusing to allow a trans-woman to use the Women's Changing Room.  Why?  Because she said it violated her religious beliefs. (Details here)

Nobody knows all the details so it'd be premature to advocate that the way things went down was truly this simple.  I'd be shocked if this sales associate was told that transgender people get to use whatever changing room they want.  And I'm not saying that actions by the group of trans-women in this situation didn't perhaps exascerbate things.  Regardless - that defense that the clerk's religious beliefs are somehow compromised in by "allowing" a trans woman to use the restroom is a key argument against any number of trans-supportive initiatives, including ENDA. 

Here's another piece of current news: City Manager Fired.  I'll just leave it alone for now...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Newton's Third Law

In my last post I shared some of what I'd call "positive" news: the recent Elle magazine cover featuring Lea T.

There's a bunch more tidbets of good news to share.  Some examples:
  • Howard County in Maryland became the 3rd county in the state to pass a trans-specific discrimination bill (details here). 
  • President Obama released a first-of-its-kind Presidential Memorandum making the defense of LGBT rights a global effort (details here).  "The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States' commitment to promoting human rights," Mr. Obama said.  Read the entire Memorandum here.  Big stuff, that was immediately attacked by Rick Perry....
  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton continued that theme by defending the rights of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender persons around the world in a speech entitled "Free and Equal in Dignity and Rights", at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland. (details here).
  • NCTE released a document outlining workplace rights for Transgender Federal Employees (see it here).
  • A Georgia transwoman who was fired when she announced that she planned to transition won her appeal when the 11th Circuit Court announced that her dismissal constituted sex descrimination (details here).  These kinds of things are huge.
It's hard to believe that so much has happened in just the last day.

But the thing that I find most compelling is also the thing I find most disturbing.  It's the story, AND VIDEO, from mid-November of a California transwoman being tazed in the crotch by law enforcement officials once they realized her situation (see story here).



It's horrific to watch this go down.  And to be sure, this kind of thing isn't isolated or rare. An article on Huffington Post highlights just a few recent examples (read it here).

I've said in the past that one of my biggest fears in the early days of my transition was to be stopped by the police. Honest to God, I would have had a heart attack right there. And that's a pretty significant thing to admit given all the other things that were going on in my life at the time. But it's true. And depending on who stops any of us those fears have proven time and time again to be justified.  Recent incidents in Washington DC brought that police force into the national spotlight, as well (details here).

It's a shame that good people get tainted by the behaviors of a few, but that's the reality of many things in life. And - watching this there can be no doubt that this is a hate crime.  The sight of a person peacefully standing with their hands up suddenly getting tazed not once but twice isn't something anyone could reasonably argue as otherwise.

Is this any different than the brutal attack on a transwoman in a Baltimore McDonald's earlier this year?  As a matter of fact - it is.  Because these attackers worked for the government - the Bureau of Land Management - so they had "authority".  I find this to be doubly troubling because BLM is part of the Department of the Interior, and I was just there last month to speak and do trainings.  I saw the commitment to respect at the highest levels for myself.  But the oath that government employees take to protect the Consitution is nowhere to be found as this poor woman writhes helplessly on the ground.

So - the take away from all of this is that we're making amazing progress but we're still being brutalized, humiliated, dehumanized, and disrespected every day.  Daily indignities continue to be the norm for many if not most.  And Newton's Third Law stating that every motion has an equal and opposite re-action is very much alive and well.

As a side note, while I think it's critical to recognize that although it's important to embed our values in our foreign policy and to articulate them clearly for all to recognize, we've still got lots of work to do here at home, too.

As for me - I'm heading to the gym.  I took yesterday "off" but I'm hoping for a good, long, brisk 5-mile jaunt on a treadmill.  Then?  Dinner and the most civilized part of the day.....a glass of red wine.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Well Lived

I recently shared an article on FB about model Lea T on the cover of Brazil Elle magazine.


I find these kinds of things to be significant advances in the ongoing socio/cultural battle of validation, similar to the recent participation of Chaz Bono on DWTS.  I grew up at a time when the only possible way I'd see anything remotely resembling trans anything was once or twice a year when Phil Donahue would have a show on it.  And even then, the topics and the depictions were stereotypical, unflattering and other than simply letting me know that there were others like me out there they probably did as much harm as good.

Fast forward to today, when we're taking an active role in all aspects of our social fabric, not simply as trans people but as men and women (regardless of surgical status!) who also happen to be trans.  It's amazing.

This discussion of what constitutes a "real" man or woman, or who is trans anything and who is not, can quickly devolve into a pissing match were everyone gets wet and someone feels they need to "win" because they see things differently.  I generally avoid stepping in that pile because my feelings on it are pretty clear.  And they haven't changed.  If anything, they've solidified....


I also shared some information on the CNN Dialogues event in Atlanta that I'll be doing next week (details here).  It's a live event - the 3rd (and last) in the series - that CNN describes as "a series of community discussions on major topics shaping our times, led by leading thinkers of the day".

I'm looking forward to this.  I like the fact that it's going to be live - there's a unique dynamic of a live event that's unlike anything else.  Anyway, if you're in the Atlanta area and cat attend I think it will be well worth the time.  It should be interesting.

I've felt kinda "blah" this weekend.  Not mentally - but physically.  The wear and tear of losing weight to get down to my weight-class gets sapping once it gets to a certain point.  Needless to say, I'm at that point.  I remember last time how yucky the last week or 10 days was.  Here we are again.  As of yesterday I was within an hour in a plastic suit of my limit.  I expect I'm not there any more as I had a wonderful dinner with friends that helped to add some much needed energy.

I'm going to need it.  I'm here this week.  I've got a quick cross-country trip (flights, thankfully) this weekend.  I fly to Atlanta next Wednesday for the CNN event.  I fly to Dallas Thursday, I do weigh-in's on Friday, the US Open Women's Nationals happen all day Saturday, then I fly home on Sunday.  Oy.

I was talking with a friend about all of this recently.  My life is more full now than it has ever been.  My career, my interests, physically, mentally and spiritually, important relationships in my life - all are blossoming right now.  I keep thinking that things will slow down but they rarely do and even then, only for a while.  And the energy that it takes to keep it up always seems to find a way to recharge itself.

Back to the beginning of this post - the article on Lea T.  I've said for as long as I can remember that this journey for me has been all about embracing life rather than enduring it and the opportunities to do that have never been greater.  Donna was forced to hide for a long, long time and in some very real ways I suppose I'm trying to fit a lot of life into a relatively little bit of time.  I don't necessarily need to understand it or explain it or rationalize it - it just is.

Once all is said and done I hope that my epitaph will be a short one:  "A life well lived."  It really is that simple.  That's easier to achieve when you're not afraid, or when you can keep your fear in perspective.  I like to think I do that pretty well.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Needs

One friend (you know who you are) recently wrote to indicate that recent posts here seemed to indicate that I was having a "rough time" in some capacity or another and that she hoped I was ok.  I truly appreciate that she took the time to express her concern, and to offer a cyber hug despite the fact we've never actually met in person. 

I want to take a moment to allay any similar concerns.  While it's true that there's a significant amount of upheaval and change in my world right now, change that I didn't really anticipate, I feel compelled to say that the change is happening as a result of unexpected opportunity.   It has involved a bit of a life pivot, but I've come to appreciate the value of overall life agility and awareness as critical life skills.

One of the things I learned in college that has come in surprisingly helpful over the course of my life is the concept of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.  The simplest explanation is that it is a pyramid of increasingly complex human physical and emotional needs, all of which need to be addressed to reach the point of becoming "self-actualized".  Lowest level needs are those we need to address simply to live - food, shelter, etc. - higher levels address deeper levels of needs (ie, to be appreciated, to be loved, etc).  Anyway - I find this model to be an important life guide...

I've made some crazy, irrational decisions in my life believe me.  Thankfully, I have survived (and actually learned from) them all, and they're nothing to be sorry for.  But recently I've been addressing some of those lower level needs.  I'm actively making decisions to address them, rather than to try and address higher levels hoping that more basic needs will somehow get met.

This isn't a bad thing.  It's just a thing.  There's actually something exciting in life about new beginnings and in a way this is one of those.  A new beginning that addresses a bunch of things.

I have found it to be important to have various life "guides" to help provide direction at any point in time.  Another helpful one for me is something I've mentioned before - Kalhil Gibran's "The Prophet" provides a significant measure of wisdom that sometimes calms the seas.  I find that one passage, in particular, makes itself relevant over and over again in my world.  It's the passage titled "On Reason and Passion" (read it here). 

Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and your appetite.
Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody.
But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?
Good stuff.

And I do love all my elements. My reason, my passion, and the balance I sometimess have to force myself to find between the two.  One, by itself, makes me too measured and careful. Those things don't always come easy to me.  And the other, alone, can make me too impetuous and reckless.  It's finding that middle ground, or at least being able to recognize to which side you need to lean sometimes, that truly provides the kind of life guidance you need sometimes.

So, back to real life now, those are the key elements in my world at the moment.  Measured reason and managed passion.  And the end result is good overall focus, a cautious sense of optimism, a comfortable life speed and general direction, and a continuing awareness of self.  I hope all the above continue for a long time....

I certainly can't speak for anyone else but one of the real values of my transition was a clearer understanding of self and life direction.  The gender part was certainly a critical component - perhaps the most visible one - but it can't and shouldn't overshadow the fact that it can be so much deeper than that.  The process of gaining congruence involved change across every aspect of my "self", it was not simply physical.  As difficult as it was to concieve and do at the time, I suppose that's partly why it has become such a critical continuing aspect of my life.

Anyway - that's a lot of words and I don't expect it will make sense to some, or even most.  But this blog is as much my opportunity to express myself to myself as it is to try and share with others.  It's a form of therapy.  That's why I continue to do it.  Because it works....

Tuesday night was Happy Hour at a local Japanese restaurant with $5 martinis and wonderful hors d'oevres.  Today I got my hair done (one of life's simple pleasures) but will most likely squander it by going for a sweaty run at the gym.  Tomorrow after work one of my co-workers and I are going to the Art Walk (the first Friday of every month) in downtown Charleston for a little art, a little food, and a little "adult beverage".  Saturday I've got a number of errands to run and some work to do.  Sunday it's supposed to get back up to 70 sunny degrees here, and I may go to the Holiday Parade or simply go for a long bike ride.  I don't get these kinds of "down" weekends very often so I suppose I should appreciate it while I can.  I've got a bunch of traveling coming up...

I recently learned that two of my worlds are intersecting.  I'll be doing an event in Atlanta in a couple of weeks with Johnny Weir, the figure skater.  And, most of the make-up I buy is made by MAC.  Johnny just happens to be the spokesmodel for the most recent MAC collection, "Glitter and Ice".  Now I'm doubly intrigued.

Onwards.  Time to get to the gym.  I've got a number of training miles to run before going home and having dinner.  Back to my hierarchy of needs - both are demanding attention right now.  :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The last few days.

I wrote this on Saturday but never posted it.  I'll share "old" stuff before getting to new...

Saturday November 26, 2011

6:05 am
This morning was the second early-early morning in a row. Yesterday we set the alarm to get up and go shopping. Today, I had to get up, finish packing, and get to the airport for my 7am flight. I’m sitting at the gate waiting as I type this.

The airport isn’t crazed yet here in Dallas. A couple of people have run by me in the last couple of minutes, obviously late, and their reactions have been interesting to watch. One had a sudden, “Oh sh*t” moment when he realized that his plane was gone. The other tentatively approached her gate and had one of those “Thank G*d!” rushes as she realized it had been boarded, but was still at the gate. Sometimes there’s a fine line between “Oh sh*t “and “Thank G*d”. In this case, it was a matter of minutes.

The trip has been very enjoyable. Picture perfect, actually. And just as each Thanksgiving is memorable for some reason this will be memorable because of its comfort. And fun. I had fun.

The travel has been relatively painless. The time with my mom was great. She had her little list of things that she needed done (ie take her winter clothes out of one closet and move them to another) and as always I’m happy to be able to help just as I think she’s happy to still be able to “mom” me. I had a pair of pants with a missing stitch that she fixed. See – I have my own little list too. ☺

There were actually three of us around for most of the last few days. Mom, me, and Jamy. I’ve known Jamy for a number of years and at one point she actually livied in my mom’s in-law apartment. She has become like extended family in recent years after her own mother rejected her . She transitioned a number of years ago and her mother has never been accepting of her so my mom has become kind of a pseudo-mom for her. As I said – I think my mom still enjoys “momming” and that includes Jamy. One of the morals of all of this is that family isn’t always genetic – you can build family pretty much anywhere.

Several of the larger retail chains opened at Midnight on Black Friday. When my alarm went off at 4:45 yesterday I thought THAT was friggin’ early. But as with other years I’ve done this half the fun of it is in the experience of it all. It’s hard to express that in words to someone who has no appreciation for it, but for others who were similarly entertained early yesterday it makes perfect sense.

My main targets yesterday were shoes and clothes. In my new role I’ll be meeting with stakeholders so there’s a higher level of “style” involved than simply sitting in an office working with technical people. So yesterday’s excursion was all about clothes and shoes, and I’d have to say that it was wonderfully successful in both regards. Really.

Macy’s. The Gap. DSW Shoe Warehouse. Nordstrom Rack. Forever 21. All of them got some of my $$$ lovin’ yesterday and I’m feeling like I got smokin’ deals in return so it was all win/win. The funny thing is that I bought so much I had to buy a new suitcase to lug it all home, which was also a Black Friday special buy.

We were going from 6am until almost 5 in the afternoon and it was uniformly fun. We had a blast. Then it was time for leftover turkey, pie, chilling, and bed.


Monday November 28, 2011

11pm
It's raining outside.  I can hear it on the window.  I was just thinking that I can't remember the last time I was in rain.  And the next week is supposed to be sunny, but cooler.  Fine by me.  Because cooler is still in the 60's - not the teens or twenties or even thirties.

Today has been one long day.  I was up at 4, at work by 6, spent 3+ frustrating but ultimately successful at the DMV registering my car, took some training courses, and tried to go for a run at the gym afterwards but ended up bagging it due to a stitch in my side.  I'm chillaxing before turning out the light and just calling it a day.

One news story that I can't let pass without comment is the announcement today that Barney Frank will not seek re-election in 2012 (story here).  I realize that there are people that hold him in very high esteem, and will spend the time between now and then falling all over themselves singing his praises.  Try as hard as I might, I'm not one of those people.

Legacy. I will forever remember him as the guy who accidentally did the trans community a huge favor when he dissed us over ENDA because it helped us to find our voice.  It forced the broader community to consider the line between LGB and T in a new way and the outcome was transformative.  So rather than holding a grudge in an ironic way I suppose I should thank him.  But the things I'm thanking him for are by-products and back-fires of his fatally flawed, short-sighted, spineless strategy and his universe-sized sense of ego.

NCTE issued a press release honoring him already (read it here). 

"While the relationship between Congressman Frank and transgender people has not always been smooth, the truth is that he has pushed very hard for trans rights in Congress and the administration over the last few years."
Hasn't been smooth?  That's an understatement.  It hasn't been smooth, and in my opinion it's still not smooth nor will it be any time between now and doomsday despite the hiring of Diego Sanchez to his staff.  I suppose they need to play well with others since they're a political organization and Barney is big fish in that pond, but I for one will not be singing his praises any time soon.

Tuesday November 29, 2011

5am
My sleep patterns are all messed up.  I'm not quite sure why, and I'm not feeling too overly tired yet, but I woke up at 2 something after less than 4 hours of sleep.  By 3 I realized I wasn't going to fall asleep again so I got up, got ready for work, and got out the door.  I think part of it is simply that I'm just enjoying what I'm doing career-wise right now and without other significant distractions I'm throwing myself into it.  It feels a little like when I first started at Dell over ten years ago.  Anyway - good, positive energy flowing there and I hope it continues.

Despite a number of competing priorities I'm finding that I'm doing well focusing right now.  I'm being purposely vague on a number of details and I don't expect to fill in the blanks any time soon.  But as I look at various scenarios of how things might play out over the next few weeks I'm hopeful in a number of ways.

I got on the scale to see the damage I did to myself with all the eating over Thanksgiving and was pleasantly surprised to see that I'm exactly where I want to be.  Phew.  I've been trying on slacks over the past few days and although I rarely weigh myself I generally gauge things based on how my pants fit.  I'm still generally a size 4 which is where I want to stay. 

That's it for now.  The last few days have been busy but productive, generally good, and very full.  Over the next couple of weeks I've got a quick cross-country trip planned, I've got the CNN event in Atlanta, I've got the US National Wrestling Championships in Dallas, and I've got lots to do on the home front.  As usual - I don't expect things to slow down any time soon.  And I'm ok with that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Crazy, or just crazed?

I'll be the first to admit it.  I'm crazy.

What prompts me to share this about myself?  Well, first of all, it's probably no secret.  Crazy is simply an altered state of mind sometimes.

I'm crazy because my beloved Buffalo Bills have turned a once promising season into a train-wreck (see an oh-so-true story here).  Again.  And I can't help but wonder if they had tanked from week one as expected whether it would be less disappointing.  But in a line from Avatar, "Eventually, you've got to wake up".  And we did.  To a nightmare.

The craziness is that my team is my team, thirty years ago, twenty years, ago ten years ago, today, and for however long I know who I am.  I can't help it.  It's not a choice, believe me, because I'd much rather a follow a team that actually won Super Bowls once in a while.  But we don't.  And, they're still my team.

I'm nothing if not loyal.  Or crazy.

More specifically, though, I'm crazy because I'll be at an airport tomorrow.  On the busiest travel day of the year (42.5 million of us will be traveling for Thanksgiving!) I'll be flying to Dallas to spend Thanksgiving with my mom.  Then, I'll do it in reverse over the weekend.  If that's not crazy I don't know what is.  At least I'm not alone (there are 42.5 million of us), and for others who may be in the same pickle you might want to take a look at this T-Day Travel Survival Guide.

But as I've said in years past Thanksgiving is a special Holiday for me.  It is unique each year because it truly does provide time to pause and give thanks.  And I do.

It's a time for family, and with my mom at 82 years old I'm thankful for every Thanksgiving we get to spend together.  For her I'm willing to brave airports, and crazed people, and more general travel upheaval.  Why?  Because its' my mom, because I'm crazy, and...I'm nothing if not loyal.  And I'm consistent.

This has been a whirlwind week.  I've started a new project so I'm buried deep under the weight of on-boarding.  I'm finishing up some loose ends, while at the same time trying to arrange other complicated logistics.  It's been a good week, though, and I hope it continues as such.

Tonight the small group that's my workgroup (3 of us) went out for Happy Hour.  It was our first opportunity to bond outside of the 10 hours a day we spend looking at each other across our desks.  Plus alcohol is a wonderful team builder and/or social lubricant.

We've been filling out background check forms, taking online training courses, and generally coming up to speed very quickly - we've all been hired specifically for this monster project.  And after tonight's time together I can honestly say we're a pretty cool group and I'm looking forward to our working together.  I like our dynamics...

But back to the crazy thing....Last year I drove down to Charleston from Harrisburg with a turkey in my trunk.  I left the house at 4am in hopes of getting there in time to cook, and then eat.  I did.  I can say without hesitation that I'd much rather be in the air over the next few days than in a car.  But I may find myself choking on those words by the time I get back.  I hope not.

I have a couple of interesting things to share tonight before I get to bed...

One is an intriguing study that finds that Trans workers who are "Out" at work have higher overall job satisfaction (see details here).

Another is the recent publication of a new book titled "The Lives of Transgender People" (see story here).  I remember a time when there were no books at all about the lives of trans people - period.  That's one of the reasons I published mine, because it would have been so helpful for me at the time.  And although I haven't read this book I think it's important to have these kinds of mainstream opportunities to share.  Columbia University Press published this book, and that's the same publisher who published my dads last books.  Getting that kind of recognition from an academic press isn't easy - Lord don't I know - so although I admittedly don't read much, I'm intrigued.

And with that - I'll wish anyone and everyone who somehow happens to read what I share here a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving.  May you be safe, be happy, and be at peace - wherever you are.